McDonald’s may be sued for Happy Meal toys

Shrek drek: Do inexpensive plastic toys lure children–or their parents–into making unhealthy food choices? The Center for Science in the Public Interest believes they do and is threatening to sue McDonald’s if the company doesn’t stop using toys to promote its products. “DreamWorks is the supplier of the drug and McDonald’s is the pusher
and distributor in this country,” said CSPI attorney Jeff Cronin. (Food Safety News)

20 Responsesto “McDonald’s may be sued for Happy Meal toys”

  1. Jack says:

    And let us not forget that these toys in the Happy Meals also happen to make McDonalds the #1 toy maker in America. That’s one crazy number of Happy Meals.

    Is it not shameful that parents are coerced into getting Shrek-crap by having to buy their kids Happy Meals?!

    When exactly did it become okay to teach children that a meal should come with a toy?

  2. Linda says:

    Why is McDonalds being sued?  I decide what my children eat, not them.  If they do get a toy or not is up to me.  Yes, the advertising is aggressive, but you can turn off the tv or radio.  You are the parent, act like it!

  3. Jack says:

    I disagree with you, Linda. Children have a huge influence on what their family eats (esp. in the USofA). If they are convinced of the need to go to McD’s so they can get the latest toy in the happy meal – it will happen (in most households). There is the occasional parent who will “act like it”, to quote you, but most others are simply worn down or will do what’s easiest or just rationalize it.

    Btw, I’m pretty sure you’re kids decide what they eat, not you. You have great influence, but I’m sure you’re not force-feeding them, right? Er, right?

  4. Maybe in your family the kids have control, Jack. That is most unfortunate that you don’t take control of the situation. You are the adult. Make the decisions. Don’t go to McDonalds, or anywhere else, you don’t want to go and don’t buy food, or anything else, you don’t want to do. Take responsibility for your decisions and actions. I have no love of them but it is crazy that McDonald’s is being sued.

  5. Jack says:

    @Walter: Actually, my 7-yr-old son has only ever been to one fast food restaurant, Starbucks. (We don’t have tv, either, so he’s not bombarded with fast food ads.)

    I believe you’re not understanding my point. Kid’s receive both peer pressure and tv advertising pressure to get the latest toy at McDonalds. (Say a Bakugan or a beany-baby.) The peer pressure is again the results of his peers seeing tv ads. Why don’t you tell me why it’s okay to Advertise to young children? It’s not like they’re mature enough to make the right decision. Other countries have banned advertising to children, but not the US. You can also tell me why it’s okay for a toy to come with a kid’s meal and how that doesn’t influence the child to want to return.

  6. Oh, I understand. You are abdicating responsibility and claiming other people are doing so too in order to justify your own actions. I was attempting to be gentle but that is the reality.

    It is okay to advertise because live in a relatiely free capitalist society. Take responsibility for yourself and your family. You can. Teach your children to think critically for themselves so they can see through the advertising ploys for what they are. You need to teach that now while you have the chance.

    I have three kids. We have no TV although there is plenty of other exposure to the world. I teach them to think and to question. They not only survive the advertising, they thrive and make good decisions. May you do as well.

    Interstingly my ReCaptcha was “The Dummest”. Is this a subliminal commentary on the absurdity of this conversation? :)

  7. Linda says:

    Hi Jack,
    I do not think we should advertise to young children, but I also don’t think that we should sue everyone who we ALLOW to influence our children.  I dispise the commercials on tv.  They pander to children, and the adults in the commercials always are portrayed as less than capable as the children in them.
    My little ones rarely eat fast food, (usually it is only when we are traveling) they hate McDonalds, and have never asked for the toys.  As far as force feeding them, I do not.  I offer nutritious food, and they help with the prep, so are excited to eat “their creations”   Maybe I am just lucky and have smarter kids than most, but I do believe that it is only because they are probably a little better educated on the proper food choices, and less influenced because we do not allow television to rule their day.

  8. Grandfather Time says:

    @Jack, first off, if you were any kind of parent, you would know that YOU are in charge. Not the children. YOU ULTIMATELY decide what they eat, if they don’t like it, they can learn to like it.
    McDonald’s does not hand your children a gun and ask them to point it at your head so that you will buy them a meal that contains a toy.
    Does this mean you also think most cereal manufacturers should be sued for including toys in boxes of cereal, or allowing you to save box tops to mail in for prizes?
    If you think that McDonald’s is to blame for you allowing your children to run all over you, then that is truly sad. Maybe you should…you know…pick up a parenting magazine. Or better yet, practice abstinence, since you have so little control over your own household.

  9. Hey now, let’s stop the personal flames please. I happen to know Jack, and he’s a great parent — his kid eats more nutritiously than 99% of the population, adults included. So back to the topic at hand: while a lawsuit seems extreme to me, I do think it’s a little creepy how many millions are spent trying to get kids to eat crap, and that parents could use more ammunition in the war against outside influences.

  10. Katie says:

    Most people DO NOT feed their children McDonalds EVERYDAY.  My mother would not let me have Mcdonalds more than once a month, it was a special treat when I got to have it and when she said no I knew she meant no. Everything in moderation.   Children are not supposed to run the show, the adults are. Parents do not know how to say no anymore and we are ending up with worse than just fat and lazy kids.  I think it is absolutely outrageous that this is happening.  This is America, the land of the FREE, people.

  11. Elisabeth says:

    Well, despite the flame war it seems most of us agree that it IS a parent’s responsibility to decide and provide dinner.  My children (I have 4) get fast food occasionally (once a month) and they love it.  They also ask for it more often than that, with my 4 year old asking daily as we drive by McD’s on our way home.  I simply but firmly explain that McDonald’s and other fast food is a fun treat but not for every day.  Some days she whines and fusses other days she accepts her fate (usually broccoli and chicken) but no matter what her response is, my position does not waffle.

    And does anyone REALLY believe that removing the toy from the Happy meal will eliminate or even put a dent in the childhood obesity problem?  My bigger problem is that once again was as Americans (ok some Americans) are asking the government to do what we are unwilling to do.  Please make my job easier make my kid NOT want Happy Meals, instead of making me say NO.  Really?  This is the country we’ve become?

  12. Becky says:

    The obesity of America’s children has become more than just an issue of appearance. Social stigma aside, the more serious effects can include heart disease (due to high cholesterol and high blood pressure), diabetes, depression, asthma, sleep apnea, and even cancer (1). These children will likely face the same risks in adult life, with the added possibility of dementia and stroke. The importance of initiating a meaningful dialogue between an overweight child’s family and their healthcare provider cannot be overstated. This discussion can open doors not only to a healthier childhood, but also to a healthier adult life.g or

    1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Obesity in the News: Helping Clear the Confusion.” Power Point Presentation, May 25, 2005.

  13. Anthony and Jennifer says:

    the toys will not make the kids fat, they are offered to be bought separately from the happy meal so it is the parents own stupidity that is making their children fat, not mcdonald’s.  To all those who have kids who are overweight and are blaming fast food for that fact here is something to think about, Who buys that fast food for them?  oh the answer is you dummy.

  14. tc says:

    Anthony and Jennifer- as a person who works with the low income sector allow me to point out that you are very lucky to have been educated of the pro’s and con’s of fast food, that you had a role model to teach you how to make better choices and perhaps even cook. Let’s also remember that many low income persons may not have access to cooking facilities so a restaurant is there only option, and perhaps most importantly the cheepness of the ”complete meal”. The toy, well that is the ultimate pshychological manipulation- even when  low income  persons do have the education, but not the funds to purchase real food, the toy added to the meal makes them feel successful as not only are they providing a meal, but also giving their child something extra- the toy.  Yes, the toy makes it “ok”, and as the purchasing pattern becomes more frequent, the children come to expect that meal to have the toy and to the children it becomes the “right” way to eat. Eat the cheap, but bad food and get rewarded with a toy. Very Sad.

  15. Let’s also remember that many low income persons may not have access to cooking facilities so a restaurant is there only option”

    Oh my word, I am appalled by that reasoning. What political correctness does that come out of?!? That is such a bad excuse I almost don’t know what to say except that that horrible logic must be challenged with truth. I grew up poor. We didn’t eat at restaurants, we cooked our food. Gads.

  16. Grandfather Time says:

    How can you afford to eat at a restaraunt, yet not afford to cook at home?

  17. Cherie says:

    Restaurants are the only option? What?! I agree with Walter. I also grew up dirt poor and let me tell you- restaurants were never an option. Since we lived in our car, cooking facilities were obviously not available but a loaf of bread and cold cuts from the grocery to put together sandwiches was much cheaper than pulling through a drive through.

  18. azure says:

    Anyone heard of the “McLibel” case?   Years ago I read a book on the trial–McDonald’s sued the members of a small group in London, UK, called London Greenpeace (not connected to Greenpeace International) and two of the members decided to fight the suit.   Libel law in the UK at the time was much different than libel law in the US, and generally anytime McD’s threatened a suit, people backed down fast.   No legal aid for defending libel cases (not then anyway).    Why was McD’s claiming to have been libeled?   One reason was because members of the group alleged that McD’s intentionally enticed kids to want the food & nagged at the parents to take them to McD’s.

    Very interesting case, judge actually found for the defendants on several of the issues (very difficult to meet legal standard).    The case dealt w/some of the same issues the commenters are arguing about–does McD’s direct advertising towards kids, etc.

  19. judie says:

    I am writing a paer on this topic for a class. Found this tidbit of information……..
    McDonald’s former Chief Marketing Officer Mary Dillon said that their advertising “shows that something like a Happy Meal at McDonald’s can make everything better.”  Lucy Hughes, of Initiative Media World Wide and author of the Nag Factor study, said: “It’s a game. If we could develop a creative 30-second commercial that encourages the child to whine or show some sort of importance in it that the child understands and is able to reiterate to the parents, then we’re successful.”

  20. Jordan Griffin says:

    It really doesn’t matter. There’s a 99% chance that the United States is going down the toilet. There are too many ididots out there that know it all,and programmed into there brains by other idiots, they think they’re doing the right thing, or just don’t care enough. So unless there is a way to instantly convert EVERYONE in the U.S. into an intelligent human being, we are screwed in the future. Anyways, as for this situation, McDonalds and the parents are at wrong, more to the parents though. Your can’t blame McDonalds for being smarter than the children/parents. They are just trying to make money, and thats just the way the world works. Hurting others to make money will always be around, get used to it. And as for the parents, may I say again, IDIOTS. Letting kids sit around all day and watch tv, eat fast food, and play vid. games, is the worst thing you can possibly do, especially to the little kids who still don’t know right from wrong.  And then they blame the fact that their kids are fat on the tv and restraunts.And honestly, all crap aside, it will take a North American Hitler bent on ridding us of stupidity and junk food before this will go away. The idiot/intelligent ratio is just WAAAYY outnumbered. I can go on and on, but I think you understand what I’m saying.